Make Me Famous should be compulsory viewing. For teenagers, for parents, for anyone wanting to break into the world of entertainment and for anyone who uses social media.
The hour-long TV film from Reggie Yates explores the impact and consequences of fast fame on reality TV contestants and their close friends and family. The programme follows Billy (played by Tom Brittney), as he successfully impresses produers of a reality show and how he struggles to balance the afterglow of fame, social media, and tabloid kiss and tells in its aftermath.
As consumers of entertainment and celebrity culture, the fickle nature of the industry is apparent. Reality stars can be in the spotlight and front-page news one day and forgotten about the next. We’re familiar with the tragic suicides of Mike Thalasitis and Sophie Gradon, who took their lives after appearing on Love Island. However, the quiet fall from relevance and the struggle with the dark side of fame often goes undocumented. This is where Make Me Famous steps in.
Make Me Famous reveals the ugly truth of what can happen when the public loses interest. It delves deep into the struggle to keep relevant when a new batch of stars are on their way in. It grapples with the question of what happens to those reality stars who fade into the background? How can they start their lives again once the novelty wears off? Is it possible to rebrand after being stereotyped as the ‘villain’ or the ‘player’?
The show is far from glamorous and, unlike the content we’re so used to seeing on Instagram, it’s completely unfiltered. This is hugely important as it reinstates the notion that pictures and videos shared on social media are not necessarily a reflection of reality. While Billy is uploading his sponsored posts and appearing to live a ‘perfect’ life, behind-the-scenes is a very different story. On the surface, he seems fine, but he’s dealing with deep insecurities, from his looks to his relationships and his career.
On top of his inner turmoil, Billy is also confronted with non-stop messages which pop up on the screen whenever he posts – or doesn’t post. The comments he receives range from being complimentary to outright trolling. The horrific onslaught of abuse pushes Billy even further to the depths of despair and each alert acts as though it’s taken another chip out of Billy’s soul. While Make Me Famous gives audiences an understanding of how cut-throat the industry is, it’s also a lesson on the effect of trolling. Being targetted with vile online jibes is such a huge part of celebrity culture and it’s undoubtedly detrimental to mental health. This film reminds people to be kind and that words hold weight.
Make Me Famous takes place within two different time frames: before Billy secures a place on the reality show and one year after the series has aired. Throughout the film, these juxtaposing scenes play out and it makes for compelling viewing. Billy’s desperation to land a spot on the life-changing show is brutally pitted against his desperation to keep afloat following his new-found fame and the opposing moods are heartbreaking. It begs viewers to not only think twice when yearning for overnight fame, but also to take a step back and think about their actions.
Overall, the BBC Three film highlights the very clear fact that there are lessons to be learnt. Talk of reality show aftercare has never been more relevant, as well as mental health and the impact of social media. Everyone needs to do better and hopefully Make Me Famous triggers much-needed conversations about the grim state of the industry. It should be watched by all.
Make Me Famous is available to stream on BBC iPlayer.Follow us: